When Judy Robison thinks about what impacted her life, her aunt Maxine Phillippi comes to mind. It led to a college degree, Washington, D.C. digs, Department of Agriculture job.
This was because Robison grew up on an Oklahoma farm, watched her parents eke out a meager living, and thus realized early on the value of getting an education.
“I just knew that my aunt didn’t live on a farm and that all of dad’s sisters had college degrees,” Robison says. “I thought, ‘obviously, women can do that.’”
Robison subsequently got a degree in speech, English and drama, did teaching and counseling stints, then pulled mom duty. She and her husband Kirk moved to El Paso in 1974, and Judy quickly found herself volunteering, mostly through her children’s activities.
The Robisons own Pizza Properties, which owns and operates Peter Piper Pizza franchises, and Burger King franchises. Judy is being honored for her extensive volunteer work.
She believes a 13-year stretch where Peter Piper Pizza has delivered 175,500 dictionaries to every third-grader in El Paso County and Las Cruces has significantly impacted the region.
“Often, this becomes the only book these children have ever owned,” she says. “They can write their own name in the book, take it home to share with family or keep it in their school cubby.”
Robison serves on the Texas Cultural Trust board, currently as the group’s chair. The TCT’s Arts & Digital Literacy curriculum now is a fine arts credit. EPISD offers these classes.
“The numbers are growing each year. Education is moving into the 21st Century, and El Paso will not lag behind!” she says. “I’ve seen teachers teach it, I’ve seen students learning. It’s an amazing curriculum.”
Her professional associations and memberships include Southwest Tennis Association, YWCA Capital Campaign Committee and the Texas Tech School of Medicine’s Dean’s Advisory Committee. She’s also a lifetime PTA member.
She also keeps busy working on the Pro-Musica board, Texas Association of Symphony Orchestras, Paso del Norte Health Foundation and the MCA Foundation board of directors.
Being a volunteer means having others believe you know what you’re doing, she notes. Any volunteer has to prove that.
Robison is surprised and flattered at her Woman of Impact honor, admitting that looking at the names of past honorees makes her “very humbled.”
She advises future women leaders to “focus on a concept.”
“That concept may involve working with several organizations to a particular end,” she adds. “And you cannot be all things to all people.”